Oops. Wrong Cover for Rolling Stone?
July 23, 2013
It took me days to get a look at the Rolling Stone article from Jeff Goodell, who joined Dark Snow Project for several days in late June. The turnaround was lightning quick for a magazine piece – the issue hit newstands last week.
Unfortunately, not all newstands.
Due to negative reactions around the magazine’s cover shot of the surviving Boston bomber, a number of retailers will not stock this issue. Makes it pretty tough to find – so I had to subscribe to be able to get behind the paywall when the online version finally came out the other day.
Jeff is a great writer, and as a researcher who’s already done heavy lifting on coal and climate change, a great choice to fill the spot vacated when Bill Mckibben had to drop out of the trip at the last minute. Jeff flew to Kangerlussuaq with us, where we found out we had transport problems – then up to Ilulisat, where we finagled an Air Greenland helo that took us on our first trip to the ice sheet, along the Ilulisat glacier calving wall.
Which makes it all the more frustrating that Goodell’s great article got lost in the rather overblown kerfuffle over the cover photo.
I am a subscriber to Rolling Stone and now possess one of the most hated issues of a magazine ever published in the history of America. I love Boston. It is one of my favorite cities in the U.S. and out of respect to her citizens who have suffered so much, maybe I should burn this issue. But I’m not going to.
Because inside this particular magazine with the Boston Marathon Bomber’s picture on the cover is an article about Jason Box, a Greenland ice climatologist who has had twenty-four expeditions to Greenland in the last twenty years and “spent more than 1 year camping on the inland ice.”
Box has also “Installed and maintained a network of more than 20 automatic weather stations on Greenland’s inland ice in expeditions spanning 1994-2008.”
Calling him “The Ice Maverick,” Rolling Stone‘s Jeff Goodell wrote, “Greenland’s ice sheets are melting faster than anyone predicted. Climatologist Jason Box has a radical theory why — and even more radical ideas about upending the global warming science establishment.”
“25 June, 2012, on his way for his 23rd Greenland expedition, sitting in New York’s Laguardia airport terminal, writing a meltfactor.org blog on Greenland’s declining reflectivity (a.k.a albedo), Box beheld the crowded waiting area with crowds glued to TV monitors that blared news about record setting Colorado wilderness. Box’s research had linked Greenland’s albedo decline with the warming of the past decade, but was wilderness soot making the ice even darker?
“From the airport, Box rang snow optics expert Dr. Tom Painter to ask if snow surface samples could identify wilderness soot and its source (Colorado? Siberia? Arctic Canada?) and whether it was possible to discriminate between industrial and wilderness soot. Painter: ‘YES’.”
The Dark Snow Project stems from Box’s “unified theory” of glaciology. He wondered if “tundra fires in Canada, massive wildfires in Colorado, and pollution from coal-fired power plants in Europe and China had sent an unexpectedly thick layer of soot over the Arctic region last summer, which settled onto Greenland’s vast frozen interior, increasing the amount of sunlight the snow and ice absorbed, which in turn accelerated the melting.”
“According to NASA, Greenland and Antarctica are losing three times as much ice each year as they did in the 1990s. Summer sea-ice cover is half as big as it was from 1979 to 2000 and many scientists are predicting an ice-free Arctic by the end of the decade.”
And nowhere on the planet is the ice melting faster than it is in the Arctic. Box said, “I like ice because it is nature’s thermometer. It’s not political. As the world heats up, the ice melts. It’s very simple. It’s the kind of science that everyone can understand.” Everyone who wants to understand, that is.
“To Box, the icy island is a perfect laboratory to understand what is happening as CO2 levels rise and the planet warms up.” The forty-year old scientist who made his first expedition to Greenland when he was only 20 years old said, “We are heading into uncharted terrain. We are creating a different climate than the Earth has ever seen before.”
WGBH reports the issue is now “selling like hotcakes on eBay.”
Matt Taibbi explains Rolling Stone’s point of view on the controversy, pointing out that no one complained when the New York Times ran the same photo on their front page.